Perhaps you are invested in pet health and are considering revving up for a pet supplement line. If you are, zinc might just be a great first product. As it turns out, next to iron, zinc is the most commonly used mineral in dogs’ bodies. Though we know the benefits of zinc-rich chocolate for human health, its theobromine content is harmful and even deadly to dogs. While our bodies easily metabolize it, dogs’ process it much slower, which allows for toxic buildup (hillspet). So instead of giving little Spot some zinc-rich chocolate, dog owners can go the supplement route.
Why is zinc necessary?
If you are just starting out with your pet product line, transparency will be of utmost importance to show your customers how crucial this nutrient is to their dogs’ health. First and foremost, “zinc is essential for the activity of more than 300 enzymes, structural proteins and hormones in the mammalian body” (veterinarynews). It is a natural antioxidant that aids in various physiological processes and metabolic functions, including many factors of the immune system. Zinc works with other nutrients such as Vitamin A, calcium, B-complex vitamins, and phosphorus. Without zinc, thyroid metabolism would not work properly, and infections would easily develop (dogtime, vetinfo, veterinarynews). Despite its importance, the body has no way of storing zinc. Therefore, the body needs a regular and sufficient intake of the element (dogtime).
Why are dogs deficient?
Studies have proven that only 15-40% of consumed zinc from the mammalian diet is well-absorbed. That combined with a dog’s malabsorption or mal-digestion conditions can make for an extremely low amount of the mineral in the pet’s system. Some foods can even cancel out zinc quantities, leading to a zinc deficiency (dogtime).
Symptoms and Dangers
How would your customer know if their pet was lacking zinc? The most conspicuous sign of a zinc deficiency is the presence of skin lesions (aka zinc responsive dermatosis). Symptoms do vary depending on the breed. For example, puppies on an inadequate diet, ie: low zinc, high in calcium, may experience alopecia (hair loss), purulent exudation around the mouth and eyes, and scaling or crusting of the skin around the face, legs, and paw pads. Other symptoms may include anorexia, infections (ex: pneumonia), lethargy/depression, and degraded cellular immunity (vetinfo). Deficiencies in zinc can cause atrophy of the thymus, a lymphoid organ vital to the immune system, and disturbances in the cell replication process, which is key for wound healing, healthy hair, skin, and nails (vetinfo).
Types of deficiencies
The first reported case of a canine zinc-related disease was recorded in the journal, Growth, in an Alaskan Malamute, which is the oldest and largest of sled dogs. Findings? Chondrodysplasia. These dogs absorbed only 25% of zinc in the small intestine compared to normal controls, and “the reduction in absorption was related to the inability to release protein-bound zinc to the non-protein-bound status at the gut level” (veterinarynews). Such a transfer occurs in normal dogs. In this case, however, chondrodysplasia has caused skin lesions even with animals on a well-balanced diet (veterinarynews).Which dogs are at risk and how much zinc should they take?
The largest population of affected dogs, ironically and most notably, involves the largest breeds. While German Shepherds and Dobermans are well-known breeds impacted by zinc deficiencies, small dogs can still be affected. According to the Association of Feed Control Officials (AAFCO), “the ideal minimum level of zinc in the diet is 120 ppm (parts per million)… For home prepared diets, additional zinc, in the form of zinc sulphate or zinc oxide, can safely be added at a rate of 10mg per 25kg bodyweight daily” (vetsallnatural).
Your customers will definitely want to know their zinc supplement options and we have those options for you! Zinc is available in liquid, chewable, and tablet form, though some suggest crushing the tablet and mixing it into food to enhance absorption and minimize vomiting (veterinarynews). Antimicrobial therapy is another option, in addition to bathing with keratolytic shampoos such as salicylic acid and sulfur (wagwalking). Makers Nutrition can be your provider of services from manufacturing to order fulfillment. In our hands, your results will be nothing short of impressive.
Zinc is absolutely necessary for a dog’s wellbeing, as a deficiency can eventually lead to death, but too much of this nutrient could be fatal. It would be wise to always advise your customers to contact a licensed veterinarian for consultation prior to administering supplements to your dog(s). This can easily be done on your label that we would be happy to design for you!